Why the New Site? (A Brief History of SPS)
Skaters for Public Skateparks has enjoyed a number of successes in the six years of its public life. We started as little more than a knitting circle…people who enjoyed thinking about skateparks and sharing those ideas. All of the charter members were also advocates working hard in their communities to improve the life of skateboarders.
It dawned on some people within that group that the same questions were being asked by people new to skateparks over and over. Someone had an epiphany; why not create a central place—accessible to everyone—that collected that skatepark wisdom. It would be operated by volunteers with a focus on legitimizing the needs of skateboarders and helping communities make better decisions about skateparks. Skaters for Public Skateparks was born.
The focus in 2005 for SPS was primarily helping communities understand the two biggest threats to skatepark success—prefabricated ramps and unqualified builders. Some things have changed since then and other things have not. Today we enjoy a wealth of highly qualified and talented skatepark designers, builders, and artisans. Skatepark advocates no longer fear landscape architects that dabble in skatepark design but see the landscape architect as an important partner in creating a vibrant community gathering space. Today almost every well-known skatepark designer has a landscape architect on staff or has an ongoing business relationship with one.
Prefab, on the other hand, continues to be a big problem today though the most aggressive companies are shadows of what they once were and the others have seen the wisdom in concrete and now have a concrete option. It will be a few more years before no community will seriously consider a few wooden ramps on a slab as a reasonable municipal facility.
Since 2005 new challenges emerged. The fractious needs of street- and transition-skaters blew up briefly as street skaters saw advocates—many of whom were older and preferred transition terrain—as using their influence to serve their individual needs. Many of those concerns were unfounded as a host of incredible street plazas were created practically overnight. No skatepark designer today is uncomfortable designing for street skating, (though some are better at it than others).
Other things changed as well. When SPS started it was a website featuring a dozen pages of issues and a forum. The forum was where all the action was and it quickly became THE place to go for anyone considering a new skatepark. With so much activity on the forum things started getting confusing. A lot of great advice was getting buried under the mountain of activity.
We began looking at ways to get some of the best ideas out of the forum and into the website. Unfortunately with things changing so quickly, a static website wasn’t going to cut it. In 2006 we launched the new website that utilized the Joomla platform. This would allow contributors to publish articles to the website without having to learn a bunch of HTML. It was a bold new era.
Around this time we began talking with Mark Stosberg. Mark had run the venerable but out-of-date “skatepark.org”. After not too much negotiation it was determined that joining forces would make perfect sense. Mark donated his domain name and content to SPS and we’ve been indebted to him since.
For a few years things went great. We focused on producing the Public Skatepark Development Guide, strengthened our editorial material in some key places, and reached out directly to Parks professionals through trade shows and other events.
With the widespread use of social networking sites like Facebook, we began to see our forum activity decline. Ultimately this was for the best as the great information within it sometimes felt like looking for a needle in a haystack. Thousands of responses…bits of advice…questions…news bits…all piled up together. It was time to make a change.
This new site represents that change. While SPS still features the same great content, the structure will allow for more collaboration among our contributors and have better connectivity to the social networking sites that people love to use.
More Features, More Activity, More Awesome (A Quick Tour)
Devoted SPS readers who enjoyed the forums will find new forums up top. These are slimmer than the old ones and we haven’t moved any content over. You can still find the old forums here: skatepark.org/phpbb/. We’ll keep them available for a few months until people get acclimated to the new site. (And we get all that great content out of the old forums.) If you’re feeling nostalgic you can also find the old SPS site here: skatepark.org/joomla. Again, we’ll keep it available for a few months until we’re sure that we’ve gotten everything we need out of it.
If you are reading this you’ve probably figured out the basic functions of the site. Here are some things you may not know but you’ll be glad you did:
- The big picture article on the front page will show you the latest articles. You may not be interested in everything you see there but occasionally you probably will. The point is that those will change from week to week, month to month.
- You can see a list of recent articles in the right column. This may be handy if you want to stay abreast of everything going on, or maybe it’s just a good way to see if there’s anything interesting going on lately.
- Above the list of recent articles is a site map. This is handy for looking in on particular topics. Of course you can always use the main navigation too.
- • Speaking of navigation, along the top you’ll see some navigation tabs that take you to pages about the SPS organization. Below our logo you’ll see navigation tabs that will take you to our skatepark content.
- One of the coolest new features of the site can be found under the Skateparks tab. From here you can find news and information on skateparks, skatepark systems, and skatepark advocacy groups around the world. It may not look like much right now but it’s going to grow very quickly. (We have a LOT of people on it!)
As always we’re looking forward to hearing from you. If you have things you’d like to see, things you see but wish you didn’t, or would like to join our team and help create a better world for skateboarders, you can comment right here to this (or any other) article on the site! (Please be advised that your first few comments will be moderated by SPS staff until we determine that you’re not a spammer, bot, in sales, a nigerian prince looking for financial help, and so on. After we see that you’re a real human we’ll happily let you off the comment leash.)
Enjoy the site! We made it for you!